Debunking the myth on technical roles

Back Debunking the myth on technical roles

Andy Brown, technical services director at Tech Data and a nominee for this year’s CRN Women in Channel Awards for Executive Mentor of the Year award, tells us how he came to be a nominee and why it matters

Being involved in the CRN Women in Channel and before that, the Women in Tech Data Awards, has been an enlightening experience for me. It’s underlined just how much we need to bring the issue of gender equality to the fore and take positive action to make sure everyone has the same opportunities.

That’s really important because otherwise our industry will miss out on a huge amount of great, untapped talent. We certainly need to work much harder at getting more women into technical roles and this is something I am pleased and proud to say we are doing at Tech Data, by encouraging more female applicants for vacant and new technical roles.

Planning for change

I am responsible for a team of around 70 people and before the start of last year, I’d been cognisant that it was predominantly male. While I knew this should change, I had not formulated any kind of plan to address it. When Tech Data launched the Elevate business resource group in the UK, I took the opportunity to work with them on creating a plan to redress the imbalance.

Elevate is a company-wide initiative that empowers women to thrive in their careers at Tech Data. It came to the UK early in 2020 and after a launch briefing, I asked the UK Elevate team if they could help us re-evaluate the processes and language we use to in recruiting technicians.

That led to me doing an Elevate panel session on debunking the myth that technical roles are not available to women. Three female employees from my part of the organisation came along to talk about their experiences – one has since been promoted to a senior role. The hope and ambition here was to make women in key positions visible as role models, and thus encourage women in other parts of Tech Data to believe they can forge a successful technical career.

Subsequently, I was put forward for and later named winner of the Ally of the Year category in the inaugural 2021 Women in Tech Data Awards. I was also entered for the CRN Women in Channel Awards and shortlisted for Executive Mentor of the Year. I’m immensely proud to be recognised in this way and I hope I can continue to be instrumental in bringing positive change to bear.

Ambitious goals

There are many other initiatives we are running that encourage different people and groups to prosper at Tech Data. I’ve sought counsel from Gillian Arnold of Tectre, a recruiter and training specialist focussed on supporting women in technical roles, about how we accelerate the plan towards a gender balanced team. We’ve launched the internal SPECTRUM support group for LGBTQ+ co-workers, and we’re running a mentoring programme for young, ambitious managers.

But we still have a long way to go – both in my own team and across the industry. Things are changing now – activity levels are rising and more opportunities are opening up. Our goal is to get from the current ratio of about 75/25, to as close to parity as possible by the end of 2023.

To do that we will need to continue making everyone aware and reminding ourselves that every individual, whatever their gender, should be given equal opportunity. That’s why awards schemes like Women in Channel are important – they shine a light on the achievement of women in the channel and that’s why we will continue to be allies.